In the middle of my family’s cross country summer road trip, I took on an opportunity to visit the headquarters of Gold Medal Flour- their farms and their mill in Kansas. I have the opportunity to work with the very nice folks at Gold Medal Flour this fall to create some new recipes! So… you know what that means… new baked goods recipes- coming your way– this fall!
Our first stop was visiting a wheat farm- so we could learn first-hand — from a 4th generation farmer– the process of how wheat is transformed into flour. The farm was in the middle of Kansas. Totally in the middle of Kansas. Like… I-can’t-imagine-living-way-out-there-in-the-middle-of-all-of-those-wheat-and-corn-fields Kansas! But it really was beautiful (though very hot and windy). Driving through the country like that… seeing all of the big silos used to store grain and both small and large family farms everywhere. That’s a different life, for sure.
There were a few of us food bloggers there… don’t we look rugged and ready for harvesting wheat? Like naturals, right?
A fun little surprise: a sign displaying my two acres of wheat.
I began to have visions of moving to Kansas, purchasing my own farm, raising chickens, tending to the land and turning my husband into a wheat farmer.
And then I saw the combine! This thing is as massive as it looks.
And then I got to ride in the combine (with a professional combine driver, of course)… and harvest my two acres of wheat. I have to say that this part was fun too. Growing up, my brother Bruce actually spent every summer in Kansas/Oklahoma harvesting wheat with his grandfather. It was cool to text him some pictures of what I was up to. He was a little confused… (“What? You have your own wheat? What are you going to do with it? What are you doing in Kansas??”)
Here’s the part where my dreams of moving to Kansas and becoming a wheat farmer’s wife were crushed. My husband has terrible allergies. This job isn’t for him.
The combine strips whole grain kernels of wheat from the straw/wheat stalks. It gathers them into the machine…
…and then it delivers the wheat kernels into a large truck for transport to the mill.
“General Mills” is actually a “mill” in Kansas City. This is where the wheat berries are ground into flour and then it’s all packaged and ready for distribution.
The milling process is quite involved, and it involves 7 or so floors of equipment. There is grinding and re-grinding and separating and testing. Lots of tubes and pipes and scientific poking and measuring. It’s amazing that anyone ever figured out how to make flour in the first place.
Eventually, those wheat berries are turned into sprinkles of flour, and then they’re ready for packaging. The whole process from farm to table was very interesting. Everyone from the farm to the mill is pretty passionate about what they do too. One farmer told me, “If you’re born into wheat harvesting… then you’re gonna be a next generation wheat farmer. That’s just how it is.” He also told me that he loved what he did.
We took our flour and headed to the Culinary Center of Kansas City, where we were met with a surprise.
It was time for a bake-off! I found a table with my name on it, a bunch of ingredients, and a recipe that I was asked to make.
Here’s a peek at some of the hip, new packaging that you’ll soon begin seeing in your grocery store.
I was THRILLED to meet Jeff and Zoe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day for the very first time. Loved both of them, and they are a wealth of knowledge and talent about all things bread and pizza!
There are all of the goodies we were tasked to make- cupcakes, donuts, pie, and pastry!
I loved learning that General Mills created “Betty Crocker” back in 1921 as a way to give personalized response to consumer questions. Betty was considered to be a cheery, All-American name and “Crocker” was the last name of one of the company’s directors… and it has stuck all these years. People still write to “Betty” with baking questions, and now there are many “Betty’s” who answer.
Here’s a little video sharing my experience from Farm to Table with Gold Medal Flour!
Thanks to Gold Medal Flour for educating us about the process of harvesting and milling wheat. It was such a fun trip!
*Some of the photos displayed above were given to me by Gold Medal Flour’s photographer.